On August 31, 1998, it was announced by the North Koreans that they had used this rocket to launch their first satellite Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 from a pad on the Musudan-ri peninsula. However, the satellite failed to achieve orbit; outside observers conjecture that the additional third stage either failed to fire or malfunctioned. This is contrary to official statements of the North Korean state media, which stated that the satellite achieved orbit about 5 minutes after launch. On this single launch, the main two-stage booster flew for 1,646 km without any significant problems.
According to post-launch analysis of the launch vehicle, debris from the third stage fell as far as 4,000 kilometers from the launch pad. Some analysts believe that a three-stage space booster variant of the Taepodong-1 could be capable of travelling as far as 5,900 kilometers with a very small payload.